Welcome to Grub Street’s weekly survey of the most-talked-about, must-visit restaurants in New York City. The list below features spots, both new and old, ranked according to one important, ever-fluctuating (and admittedly subjective) metric: Who has the most buzz? Perhaps a famed chef has taken over the kitchen, or there’s a new dish you absolutely must order. Maybe the restaurant is just brand-new, or the critics are raving about it. Whatever the reasons, these are the 12 hottest restaurants in New York right now.
1. Misi (Previously: 1)
Missy Robbins’s newest restaurant is just charming. On paper, it all sounds very simple — straightforward vegetables, easygoing pastas, gelato for dessert — but of course, given Robbins’s talent, renown, and attention to detail, it’s quite easy to see why the large, open space has been thronged since it opened.
2. Oxomoco (Off last week)
Yes, the white, sunny, plant-filled space is classic Brooklyn Instagram bait. But — surprise! — the food is also very good, writes our critic Adam Platt. He’s a fan of the smoky tomatoes in the guacamole, beef-tartare tostadas, the “excellent” tacos, the “cavalcade of sophisticated, labor-intensive salsas and moles,” and even the raspberry tres leches cake for dessert.
3. La Vara (Off last week) and Saint Julivert (4)
El Quinto Pino owners Alex Raij and Eder Montero have turned an already-idyllic block of Clinton Street in Cobble Hill into one of the city’s great food destinations, solely because of their two neighboring restaurants. To start, there is Saint Julivert, their new seafood bar where small plates like anchovies with vanilla butter and roasted kanpachi collar blackened with jerk spice co-mingle with uni-topped chawanmushi. Then, one brownstone over, there is La Vara. Their slightly older Spanish café is the best restaurant in the entire neighborhood, thanks to its gentle prices, charming atmosphere, and always-sophisticated cooking.
4. Balaboosta (8)
The word beloved gets thrown around a lot these days, but it is nevertheless the best description for Einat Admony’s dearly departed Israeli restaurant. Except, guess what: Balaboosta is back in action, this time on Hudson Street. Go! Now! What are you waiting for?
5. Atomix (4)
The reviews have started to arrive for this ambitious new restaurant. Our man Platt recently offered three stars to the Korean-accented tasting counter — “One star for inventiveness, one for technique, and one for good old-fashioned pleasure.” Over on Eater, meanwhile, Ryan Sutton calls it “one of the city’s most exciting new bastions of haute gastronomie in years.” All of which is to say, Junghyun and Ellia Park are breathing new life into the tasting-menu concept, and if you’re in the mood to splurge, this is the place to do it these days.
6. Morgenstern’s (New this week)
It may be fall, but the ice-cream savant Nick Morgenstern this weekend will unveil his new flagship scoop shop at the corner of Houston and La Guardia Place — and he is giving New Yorkers something we probably didn’t even know we needed: an ice-cream shop with a mind-boggling 88 flavors on offer. That means five varieties of strawberry, cinnamon-whiskey, coffee caramel, durian-banana, and — hopefully — a plan to deal with all the people who want to sample all the flavors.
7. Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop (6)
Paulie Gee’s owner Paulie Giannone has expanded with a new Greenpoint slice shop. Everything about this place is a throwback, from the wood-paneled walls to the working Atari set that decorates the dining room. Oh, and the pizza is very solid, too.
8. Zauo (New this week)
Next week, this Japanese chain opens its first NYC location in Chelsea. The deal here, in case you haven’t heard, is that customers catch their own fish, which are promptly whisked to the kitchen to be filleted and cooked (or served raw as sashimi). PETA won’t love this, but you might, so take these next couple of days before the opening to mentally prepare for the experience.
9. Sans (Off last week)
Or, if live fishing isn’t your thing, you could also just eat less meat and help save the world. One place to do it: chef Champ Jones’s month-old Carroll Gardens spot, which — as the chef has told Grub Street — is a vegan restaurant for non-vegans.
10. Shake Shack Innovation Kitchen (7)
The city’s newest Shake Shack, which just opened on that downtown stretch where Seventh Avenue becomes Varick Street, is no regular Shake Shack. It is the “innovation kitchen,” which means the menu will feature all sorts of experimental Shack foods. That includes chicken nuggets that are — it turns out — quite enjoyable.
11. Adda (9)
In Long Island City, chef Chintan Pandya is cooking some of the city’s most exciting Indian food. That alone should be enough to warrant a visit, but the even better news is that the entire menu is extremely affordable, with some dishes running a mere $5.
12. The Red Cat (Off last week)
Jimmy Bradley announced recently that he’s choosing to close his Chelsea stalwart, which is a big loss to New York, where straight-shooting, comfortable, lived-in restaurants are becoming harder to find. This place isn’t a thing, which is the foundation of its charm, and it’s just plain good, so go say bye while you still can.